The following is taken from the “Sufi,” July 1918. The title of the article refers to a lady in distress, and while it does not specify the nature of her problem, from their exchange it appears to be a spiritual one. Hazrat Inayat Khan’s answers are simple but profound, and – since such questions arise perennially – could help us both with our own doubts and in responding to the doubts of others. In his concluding remark, Hazrat Inayat speaks of sleepers ‘changing sides,’ by which he perhaps means ‘turning in one’s sleep’; he also speaks of the ‘mystical’ way, as a way of saying a ‘hidden’ way, one that is not openly disclosed.
Inayat Khan’s Visit to a Distressed Lady
The Lady: I love all people, animals, birds, insets and beautiful things in the world, but I do not love God.
Inayat Khan: I do not blame you for not loving God, for one cannot love him whom one does not know, and I quite see that you have love, as you love all that is beautiful, and if you do not know God, you are not to be blamed for not loving Him. On the other hand, they are blameworthy who pretend to love God when they have not known him sufficiently, for it is impossible to love very well one whom you do not know.
The Lady: But why should one love God, when one sees so much evil in the world, and such injustice everywhere? If God is good, why has he created so much evil? If He is just, why do we see so much injustice in life?
Inayat Khan: All things that seem good and evil are the opposite ends of one line, and it is difficult to say where evil ends and good begins, for these are comparative terms; a lesser good with a greater good would seem evil, and the lesser evil in comparison with the greater evil would appear good. If there were no evil, good would not have been valued. Without injustice, justice would not have been appreciated. Therefore the whole of life’s joy is expressed in duality.
The Lady: There is more suffering than joy in this life, and if God is merciful, why should He allow His creatures to go through sufferings in life? Did He create us for nothing but suffering?
Inayat Khan: If God were a separate being from man, and if He rejoiced in the suffering of man, then He is to be blamed, but He, as the Sufi realises, is the sufferer, and the suffering, yet He is beyond all suffering. This fact can be understood not just by believing in God, but by knowing Him. Suppose your hands dropped a heavy weight upon your feet and hurt them, are your hands to be blamed? No, for they share the pain with the feet, and although the feet seem to have been hurt, yet the one that feels hurt in your being is your absolute being, in reality that ‘Being’ feels hurt, and therefore the hand shares the hurt of the foot. So it is with God, our very life is His, and He is not void of feeing either the joy or the pain that we feel. In reality He feels what we imagine we feel, and at the same time His Perfect Being keeps Him above all earthly joys and pains, and our imperfection limits us, so that we become subject to all joys and pains, however small they may be.
The Lady: Why are we imperfect? Why should the creature of the Perfect Being be imperfect?
Inayat Khan: Life is a journey from one pole to another, and the perfection of the conscious life is the final destiny of the imperfect life. In other words, every aspect of life in this world of variety gradually evolves from imperfection to perfection, and if life’s evolution were not so in its nature, there would have been no difference between life and death, for life on the surface is nothing but the phenomena of contrast.
The Lady: What is the benefit of believing in, loving or knowing God?
Inayat Khan: The belief in God kindles in man His love, and where the flame of love arises the knowledge of His Being begins to unfold by itself. This awakens man from the slumber of ignorance, and gives a real happiness and joy that nothing else in life can give.
The Lady: Then why do the awakened ones not awaken people in the world from the sleep of confusion?
Inayat Khan: Would you advise the awakening of little children whose only happiness is in slumber, and whose growth depends upon sleep? If they are kept up late they become ill, and are not so useful in the affairs of life as are grownup people. Childhood needs more sleep and the children must sleep. Such is the nature of immature souls, they are children, however old they may appear. Their fancies, their joys, their delights are for unimportant things in life, as the life of children is absorbed in sweets and toys. Therefore those who are awakened walk slowly and gently, lest their footsteps may disturb the slumber of the sleeping ones. They only awaken on their way those whom they find changing sides. They are the ones to whom the travellers on the spiritual path give their hand quietly. It is for this reason that the spiritual path is called the mystical way. It is not unkind to awaken a few and to let many sleep, but on the other hand it is a great kindness to let those slumber who require sleep.
The Lady: Thank you, O Teacher, pray bless me.
Inayat Khan: May God bless you.
Vol III No. 2